Growing up in coastal South Portland, Michele Gilfoil was outside all the time, swimming at the beach or exploring the woods where she developed an appreciation for the ocean and the natural environment. That led her to start Planet Botanicals. “I could not find skincare products without harmful additives and decided to make my own using carefully selected, high quality, plant-based, healthy ingredients,” Michele says.
Her first line of products were made with sustainably harvested shea butter from Ghana made by a women’s cooperative whom she met while traveling there with her sister Kara. As an ethical and sustainable fair trade business, “we source directly from organic growers and producers around the world,” Michele says, “so they can receive their fair share of their harvesting efforts and we can ensure quality and sustainability.”
Her second line of products were inspired by the rich nutrients and benefits of seaweed in Maine. She created the “Seaweed Dream Cream.” Friends and family clamored for her Seaweed Dream Cream, so she created an entire line of seaweed soaps, creams and gift sets. “Seaweed is an ideal ingredient for skin care as it has anti-inflammatory, hydrating and anti-aging properties,” Michele says.
She hand-harvests her seaweed locally and then dries it in the sun. At her workshop at the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook she developed a proprietary blend of sugar kelp, rockweed and Irish moss seaweeds which she infuses in all her products. “Maine Seaweed is one if the best qualities because of the cool pristine ocean waters,” she says.
Michele is a member of the Maine Seaweed Council, a group that promotes sustainable harvesting. “This ensures that it will be there for future generations,” she says.
Planet Botanicals Seaweed Skincare Collection was selected as a top 10 Indie Beauty Brand for 2018 and pitched her company on Greenlight Maine season 4 2018.
“Every choice we make has an impact, whether it’s the food you eat or a product you use,” Michele says. “I love knowing that our products are made with Maine seaweed and natural plants that are authentic, healthy and do not harm the environment because they are a renewable resource.”